It's the season for artistic public thieving in L.A. County.

First, on Oct. 27, there was the guy with the Obama mask who stuck up an El Pollo Loco branch in Duarte with a toy knife. A week or so later, there was the scary Jason version, who one-upped Obama with a real gun. Rounding out November were the 20 possibly related West Hollywood stick-up robberies, which were creative on sheer quantitative merit, and the Hermosa Beach Post-It-note robbery, which would have been a lot more creative if it weren't a direct rip-off of a Woody Allen movie.

The latest artiste on the block: the Penny Bandit of Manhattan Beach, who broke into a Wells Fargo branch at 1129 North Sepulveda Blvd. this morning and made off with “a lot of change and coins,” according to police.

Having long felt the burn of rising laundromat and vending-machine rates in this godforsaken city, we're not going to make fun of Penny & Co.'s freakish affinity for coins as much as we usually make fun of unfortunate people and events that are also unfortunately hilarious. (Indignant comment army: Don't pretend you don't like it.) This time, we're in awe.

Manhattan Beach Police Sergeant Ryan Small said there were fresh marks on the bank's doors, and at least four to six teller drawers had been pried open and emptied. So weight-wise, we're thinking the booty had to be damn near “Pirates of the Caribbean” status, and therefore reccommend MBPD officers keep their eyes peeled for a massive lumpy Santa sack that cannot be carried but for a slow, strenuous drag across the pavement.

Or giant cargo pants.

“It appeared [the robber(s)] took a lot of change — apparently not paper money, according to the security company,'' Small said.

Wells Fargo branch managers won't reveal whether paper money was even an alternative, but that's OK, because we know they're just embarrassed, and we didn't really want to know anyway. We'd rather go on picturing some pyscho coin hoarder counting out his nickels one by one in his Manhattan Beach basement, piles of glittering coinage rising like spires behind him.

Maybe even a Sacajawea in there somewhere.

Update: The Contra Costa Times reports it was $2,000 in coins. Awesome; we can keep our fantasy.


With reporting from City News Service. Got news? Email us.

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